After a few wonderful days driving along the Pacific Coast Highway, we took some time to explore the amazing redwood forests of California. I had never seen redwood trees before and I was completely blown away. They are such incredibly beautiful trees and it was a magical experience driving and walking through the forests.
First I want to quickly thank everyone who left thoughtful and insightful comments and messages about my blog post on the new Instagram algorithm (Click here to see it). It was nice to know that I am not alone in struggling with the Instagram platform lately!
Redwood Grove & Picnic Area
After hitting the road early, we were on the lookout for a picnic spot to make our usual morning coffee and breakfast. We happened to come across a really lovely clearing on the side of the road next to a wonderful redwood grove. There were picnic tables in the shade of the tall trees surrounded by ferns and lush greenery as well as a port-o-potty. It was just what we were looking for! We enjoyed our morning routine in this beautiful spot and took a short walk on the shady path through the grove before hitting the road again.
Chandelier Drive-Thru Tree
Our next stop was the Chandelier Drive-Thru Tree in Leggett, CA. While Steve and I know that cutting a giant hole out of an ancient and majestic tree is a terrible idea, we still wanted to check out this famous spot. It cost $5 to enter the small area and we were pretty bummed out that our van was too large to drive through the tree. Still, it was a pretty neat experience to stand inside the tree and it gave us a true sense of the scale of the amazing redwoods.
Avenue of the Giants
Our next stop was the Avenue of the Giants in Humboldt Redwoods State Park. This area was completely different from what I expected. I guess I was expecting it to be a quiet, secluded road that winds deep in the forest through long stretches of untouched redwoods. I am not sure why I imagined it this way. The phrase “Avenue of the Giants” just sounded so magical and wonderful. In reality, it’s a road parallel with the 101 highway that alternates between groves of redwoods and small towns with tourist attractions. The whole experience felt more commercial and less natural than I was expecting. However, each time we pulled over and wandered into the redwood groves, I absolutely loved it. Each grove was named after some one who had donated or help to preserve the forest. I am very thankful to the people throughout history who stepped up to protect these beautiful trees.
Trinidad Rest Area
There isn’t too much BLM or National Forest free dispersed camping in this area, but we enjoyed spending the night at the rest area in Trinidad. I couldn’t believe it but the rest area actually had a lovely redwood grove with picnic tables where we made dinner and breakfast. Sometimes you don’t need to take long treks to find some pretty wonderful scenery!
The next morning, we drove around the coast and came across one of the most beautiful foggy forest scenes I have ever witnessed just outside of Patrick’s Point State Park. We stopped for a bit to take photos and soak in the beautiful misty scenery.
Redwood National and State Parks
Our next stop was Redwood National and State Parks. Here we saw even more beautiful and old redwood groves that continued to leave me awestruck. We also saw huge elk roaming and grazing just near the visitor center! I am sure we could have spent a lot of time in this park, but we only had one day. We decided to check out Fern Canyon since it was on our list and looked very different from everything we had seen lately.
The drive to Fern Canyon was on a very bumpy and rough dirt road with a few stream crossings. Thankfully we had our high clearance van to drive over deep potholes and through the large puddles on the road! It was a really neat and very short 0.1 mile hike to the deep and shadowy canyon covered in thousands of ferns of several varieties. We hopped over streams and balanced on logs as we meandered through the incredible and lush canyon. It was truly a unique experience!
Klamath River Overlook
We then drove toward the Oregon coast. We made a quick stop at the very beautiful Klamath River Overlook. This was a beautiful viewpoint of where the Klamath River meats the Pacific Ocean. We looked for whales and didn’t see any, but the fog over the distant pine trees took my breath away!
Trees of Mystery
Our last stop before Oregon was the Trees of Mystery parking lot. This tourist attraction was closed when we got there, but we only stopped there to see the famous giant statues of Paul Bunyan and Babe the big blue ox anyway.
There were also some large bear statues, and I really love bears! We took some silly photos in the parking lot and then went on our way!
A quick warning! If you plan to hike around this area, be on the lookout for Poison Oak! It was everywhere! Remember: “leaves of three, let it be.” Or just avoid touching any plants just to be safe!
Up next is Oregon and exploring the waterfalls and hiking trails of the beautiful Pacific Northwest! As always, feel free to send recommendations of hikes or viewpoints. The best ways to do that are through comments on my blog or a DM on Instagram (@carrieoutdoors).